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Groups to Sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife Over WY Wolf Management Plan

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September 11, 2012

Groups to Sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife Over WY Wolf Management Plan

By Chad Love

Remember last weeks story about Wyoming's upcoming wolf hunt? Well, as Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend!" It now appears that a number of groups have filed suit to block the state's season.

From this story in the Casper Star-Tribune:
Two coalitions of environmental groups filed notice Monday that they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's decision to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming. The groups oppose the state of Wyoming's classification of wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in more than 80 percent of the state when federal protections end Oct. 1. Wyoming also has scheduled a regulated trophy wolf hunt in the remainder of the state, an area around the eastern and southern borders of Yellowstone National Park, starting next month.

According to the story, the groups claim Wyoming's wolf management plan is too similar to an earlier plan that was rejected by the federal government. However, the state of Wyoming counters that the groups are opposed to any management plan that includes hunting.

From the story: Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have worked closely together since Mead took office last year on an agreement to end federal wolf protections. The federal government already has turned over wolf management in Idaho and Montana to those states and both have held wolf hunts..."We anticipated this lawsuit because these groups have shown that any management plan which allows for hunting is unacceptable for them," Mead said Monday.

Thoughts?

Comments (13)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I would be in favor of a plan that includes more regulation rather than just wide open culling. If there is no mandatory reporting involved then I'd definitely oppose Wyoming's plan. The management folks need to know how successful (or not) culling has been. They can only do that if they know how many animals are being taken and where. Also, selling tags helps finance management.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

"Wyoming's classification of wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in more than 80 percent of the state" - that surprised me, too.

However, the website for the Wyoming Game & Fish Dpt. says, "Anyone who takes a wolf in areas of the state where wolves are designated as Predatory Animals is required to report the kill to a game warden, biologist, other personnel at a [Wyoming Game & Fish Dpt.] regional office, or by phone (800-264-1280) within 10 days." So they are keeping tabs on the overall wolf population.

I don't completely understand the need for the, "Seasonal Wolf Trophy Game Management Area," where they are Predatory part of the year and Trophy part of the year. Other than that, I think it's a workable system.

Without further research, I assume the Predatory status in much the state reflects a desire to protect the state's cattle ranches. After all, there is a limit to how well we want the wolf population to, "recover."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

NOTE: I tried to include the website page, but apparently, FieldandStream.com's filters flag the abbreviation of "Wyoming Game & Fish Department" as an obscene word. Just find their website and search for, "wolf management", if you are interested.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

No animal that's been assigned a "hunting season" has EVER become extinct. In fact, quite the opposite occurs with local populations growing by leaps and bounds!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Thanks, Steward. I still think it makes more sense to sell tags, at a nominal fee of course. I'd also like to see them doing more than just taking calls to verify kills. We all know what the outcome of that will be! The bunny-huggers will all be calling in and claiming to have shot thousands of wolves in an effort to get the wolf hunting closed down. And the ranchers and other anti-wolf crowd will be killing them and not reporting for the opposite reasons. Useless! Kills will need to be verified a bit better than what they are proposing! Doesn't seem very well thought out to me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Honker:
I agree with you that the kills ought to be verified with more than a phone call.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Steward - take out the "h t t p : / / w w w" part of the website so it reads like this: fieldandstream.com and it should work.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

For some reason the "obscenity filter" catches the first parts of a URL and calls them an obscenity and doesn't let you post...you can still work around it, but personally I think it's BS. We should be able to share websites among each other.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

As for the wolves, they need to be managed so there are abundant prey species for both wolves and hunters. Predator/prey relationships are dynamic and they tend to be overlooked. Many of the problems with prey species populations were not caused by wolves at all, but rather the failure of state agencies to adjust their methods of harvest to accommodate for a new predator. Many of the problems could have been avoided by adjusting harvest methods, season lengths, and or limiting the number of animals removed so the system remained compensatory.

Unfortunately, a new predator in the Southeast (the coyote) is causing an uproar in the same way wolves have in the West. The difference is coyotes in many areas already have a "shoot on sight" type of season, and very liberal trapping seasons, yet they're still a problem in some areas.

As a wildlife researcher, I'm intrigued to see how management is going to change now that large predators are on the "come back" and the lessons we learn now with wolves and coyotes will likely be useful later on down the line as other large predators (such as mountain lions and bears) become more numerous. Just think...50-100 years ago, man was about the only predator large prey species had to worry about in a majority of the US. Now we're reaching a point where the predators are returning, and there's no written book on how to manage prey species when new predators are introduced into a system...we're writing that book as we go along...lots of good lessons being learned along the way though.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

bio guy it's obvious you live in the east. We have different species out here. Our divisions of wildlife have already adjusted the numbers of tags some places to zero because some herds are in danger of being wiped out. You can't manage for abundant prey for both humans and wolves. Not with elk and moose. Right now humans have been the ones giving up the elk.

If it were left to the states themselves they never would have had wolves in the first place, and that fact is exactly where the trouble begins. When you impose a predator on people it just doesn't work.

David Mech the most senior wolf biologist living said last week on a forum not unlike this that after you have a few hundred wolves no kind of extreme hunting and trapping effort will endanger them to the point of them being wiped out. I'd say if Wyoming wants to classify them as varmints go ahead.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

The problem here is that the plan does not seem to be very well thought out. The wolves apparently need to be culled. That's not the issue. But when the state govt essentially throws it out there unregulated, yeah they can expect to find themselves in court. I mean why make it easy for those anti-hunting types to find something to complain about? Make an effort to look a little bit thoughtful and scientific about dealing with the problem. As just about everyone has said above, the whole program looks more than a little messed up. I mean the area where the problem is the worst is regulated as some kind of trophy hunt and every place else is just shoot em on sight. Huh? If anything, you'd think it might be the other way around. And no explanation for this that I could find.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Ever been to Wyoming?

The north west corner has lots of mountains, and few flat valleys. As soon as you get much east or south of Pinedale you have mountain ranges separated by very wide expanses of prairie. The Salt River Range blends into the Wyoming range and then peters out altogether down by Kemerer. Next range over, the Winds, then the Bighorns and that's it. Bad place for growing wolves, all they can get into is trouble. Same reason they don't try to grow them in the Dakotas or other places that are primarily agricultural.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pbofwa wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I see some misconceptions here:
A: In the lengthy, sometimes adversarial hearings leading up to the introduction of the wolves, the people of Wyoming were assured by the Federal Government that the wolves were intended to populate the Park and contiguous wilderness areas ONLY, that causing problems throughout the rest of the State was not on the agenda, and that the wolves would stay in the back country anyway because of the abundant prey there. I personally believe that the biologists who made these statements knew better, because I have personal knowledge that they concealed proof of existing wolves in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem in order to allow the "reintroduction" to take place. (by law, existing wolves precluded introducing foreign wolves)

B: A specific wolf population goal was given, which can be looked up, but I forget at the moment what that number was; xx breeding pairs. (packs) I do know that this goal was exceeded over ten years ago, and the population stands at more than triple that goal now. This "get your foot in the door and then do what you really had in mind" s.o.p. is, I believe, what directly led to the violation of A: above. Political appointees and the various groups finding sympathetic remotely located Federal Judges to veto delisting proposals every step of the way deserve the blame for this, as the Federal biologists approved Wyoming's plan for dealing with wolves away from the GY ecosystem the first go-round, then were overruled by their higher-ups, then frustrated by Judges with no interest in holding the reintroduction plan to its stated objectives.

C: Shooting the wolves that have spread to the rest of the state is nothing more than holding the wolf program to its officially proscribed guidelines and boundaries given in order to receive permission to go ahead with the reintroduction plan. Feds: "Oops, they didn't stay in the mountains." Wyoming: "No problem, we will take care of it." What has happened is no different than if wolves were planted in the corn fields of Iowa, or New York's Central Park, for that matter. Wolves were native to both of those places too, but human interests are held to have the greater priority there. Human interests were also given the greater priority outside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the reintroduction plan: Without that, Wyoming and the other affected states would still be fighting approval of the plan, and there would be no reintoduced wolves in the Park.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

No animal that's been assigned a "hunting season" has EVER become extinct. In fact, quite the opposite occurs with local populations growing by leaps and bounds!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

I would be in favor of a plan that includes more regulation rather than just wide open culling. If there is no mandatory reporting involved then I'd definitely oppose Wyoming's plan. The management folks need to know how successful (or not) culling has been. They can only do that if they know how many animals are being taken and where. Also, selling tags helps finance management.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Thanks, Steward. I still think it makes more sense to sell tags, at a nominal fee of course. I'd also like to see them doing more than just taking calls to verify kills. We all know what the outcome of that will be! The bunny-huggers will all be calling in and claiming to have shot thousands of wolves in an effort to get the wolf hunting closed down. And the ranchers and other anti-wolf crowd will be killing them and not reporting for the opposite reasons. Useless! Kills will need to be verified a bit better than what they are proposing! Doesn't seem very well thought out to me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

As for the wolves, they need to be managed so there are abundant prey species for both wolves and hunters. Predator/prey relationships are dynamic and they tend to be overlooked. Many of the problems with prey species populations were not caused by wolves at all, but rather the failure of state agencies to adjust their methods of harvest to accommodate for a new predator. Many of the problems could have been avoided by adjusting harvest methods, season lengths, and or limiting the number of animals removed so the system remained compensatory.

Unfortunately, a new predator in the Southeast (the coyote) is causing an uproar in the same way wolves have in the West. The difference is coyotes in many areas already have a "shoot on sight" type of season, and very liberal trapping seasons, yet they're still a problem in some areas.

As a wildlife researcher, I'm intrigued to see how management is going to change now that large predators are on the "come back" and the lessons we learn now with wolves and coyotes will likely be useful later on down the line as other large predators (such as mountain lions and bears) become more numerous. Just think...50-100 years ago, man was about the only predator large prey species had to worry about in a majority of the US. Now we're reaching a point where the predators are returning, and there's no written book on how to manage prey species when new predators are introduced into a system...we're writing that book as we go along...lots of good lessons being learned along the way though.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

bio guy it's obvious you live in the east. We have different species out here. Our divisions of wildlife have already adjusted the numbers of tags some places to zero because some herds are in danger of being wiped out. You can't manage for abundant prey for both humans and wolves. Not with elk and moose. Right now humans have been the ones giving up the elk.

If it were left to the states themselves they never would have had wolves in the first place, and that fact is exactly where the trouble begins. When you impose a predator on people it just doesn't work.

David Mech the most senior wolf biologist living said last week on a forum not unlike this that after you have a few hundred wolves no kind of extreme hunting and trapping effort will endanger them to the point of them being wiped out. I'd say if Wyoming wants to classify them as varmints go ahead.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pbofwa wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I see some misconceptions here:
A: In the lengthy, sometimes adversarial hearings leading up to the introduction of the wolves, the people of Wyoming were assured by the Federal Government that the wolves were intended to populate the Park and contiguous wilderness areas ONLY, that causing problems throughout the rest of the State was not on the agenda, and that the wolves would stay in the back country anyway because of the abundant prey there. I personally believe that the biologists who made these statements knew better, because I have personal knowledge that they concealed proof of existing wolves in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem in order to allow the "reintroduction" to take place. (by law, existing wolves precluded introducing foreign wolves)

B: A specific wolf population goal was given, which can be looked up, but I forget at the moment what that number was; xx breeding pairs. (packs) I do know that this goal was exceeded over ten years ago, and the population stands at more than triple that goal now. This "get your foot in the door and then do what you really had in mind" s.o.p. is, I believe, what directly led to the violation of A: above. Political appointees and the various groups finding sympathetic remotely located Federal Judges to veto delisting proposals every step of the way deserve the blame for this, as the Federal biologists approved Wyoming's plan for dealing with wolves away from the GY ecosystem the first go-round, then were overruled by their higher-ups, then frustrated by Judges with no interest in holding the reintroduction plan to its stated objectives.

C: Shooting the wolves that have spread to the rest of the state is nothing more than holding the wolf program to its officially proscribed guidelines and boundaries given in order to receive permission to go ahead with the reintroduction plan. Feds: "Oops, they didn't stay in the mountains." Wyoming: "No problem, we will take care of it." What has happened is no different than if wolves were planted in the corn fields of Iowa, or New York's Central Park, for that matter. Wolves were native to both of those places too, but human interests are held to have the greater priority there. Human interests were also given the greater priority outside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the reintroduction plan: Without that, Wyoming and the other affected states would still be fighting approval of the plan, and there would be no reintoduced wolves in the Park.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

"Wyoming's classification of wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in more than 80 percent of the state" - that surprised me, too.

However, the website for the Wyoming Game & Fish Dpt. says, "Anyone who takes a wolf in areas of the state where wolves are designated as Predatory Animals is required to report the kill to a game warden, biologist, other personnel at a [Wyoming Game & Fish Dpt.] regional office, or by phone (800-264-1280) within 10 days." So they are keeping tabs on the overall wolf population.

I don't completely understand the need for the, "Seasonal Wolf Trophy Game Management Area," where they are Predatory part of the year and Trophy part of the year. Other than that, I think it's a workable system.

Without further research, I assume the Predatory status in much the state reflects a desire to protect the state's cattle ranches. After all, there is a limit to how well we want the wolf population to, "recover."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

NOTE: I tried to include the website page, but apparently, FieldandStream.com's filters flag the abbreviation of "Wyoming Game & Fish Department" as an obscene word. Just find their website and search for, "wolf management", if you are interested.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Honker:
I agree with you that the kills ought to be verified with more than a phone call.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

For some reason the "obscenity filter" catches the first parts of a URL and calls them an obscenity and doesn't let you post...you can still work around it, but personally I think it's BS. We should be able to share websites among each other.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

The problem here is that the plan does not seem to be very well thought out. The wolves apparently need to be culled. That's not the issue. But when the state govt essentially throws it out there unregulated, yeah they can expect to find themselves in court. I mean why make it easy for those anti-hunting types to find something to complain about? Make an effort to look a little bit thoughtful and scientific about dealing with the problem. As just about everyone has said above, the whole program looks more than a little messed up. I mean the area where the problem is the worst is regulated as some kind of trophy hunt and every place else is just shoot em on sight. Huh? If anything, you'd think it might be the other way around. And no explanation for this that I could find.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Ever been to Wyoming?

The north west corner has lots of mountains, and few flat valleys. As soon as you get much east or south of Pinedale you have mountain ranges separated by very wide expanses of prairie. The Salt River Range blends into the Wyoming range and then peters out altogether down by Kemerer. Next range over, the Winds, then the Bighorns and that's it. Bad place for growing wolves, all they can get into is trouble. Same reason they don't try to grow them in the Dakotas or other places that are primarily agricultural.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Steward - take out the "h t t p : / / w w w" part of the website so it reads like this: fieldandstream.com and it should work.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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